Condemn Industry Pushback on Fuel Tank Safety Fix and Opposition to Pilot Training Reforms

Buffalo, New York- May 22, 2012 – In response to recent media coverage of aviation safety-related issues, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407′ sought to keep focus on the FAA’s continuing efforts to fully implement the landmark aviation safety legislation signed into law in August 2010. The group reacted strongly to a May 8th Wall Street Journal report that detailed efforts by the major airlines and their lobbying arms to fight FAA safety initiatives. In particular, the families derided the airlines’ opposition to a safety fix on a fuel tank issue that dates back to a 1996 fatal crash, as well as recent efforts to derail FAA rulemakings that would institute higher standards for initial pilot hiring qualifications as well as initial and recurrent pilot training requirements.


“Once again, we are reminded that you have to watch these airlines and their hired gun lobbyists like a hawk,” stated John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Elly. “Here we are looking at a common-sense fuel tank safety initiative that came about as the result of 230 needless deaths, and it’s fifteen years later and they are still dragging their feet and fighting the FAA tooth and nail. We find their claim that they haven’t had enough time to implement this fix an absolute insult to the families of the victims and to passenger safety in general. And then we have the airlines asking the FAA to scrap a major piece of the 2010 aviation safety law and go back to the drawing board on the critical issue of pilot training. We are not going to sit back and allow Airlines For America to operate in the shadows and try to run roughshod over the FAA in Washington.”

The group also responded to Friday’s announcement that errors had been made in the cost-benefit analysis that FAA used to justify a carve out for cargo pilots from its recently-issued new regulation dealing with pilot fatigue. While expressing their support for the cargo pilots, the group also called on FAA to not lose focus on key rulemaking projects addressing the all-important issues of pilot qualifications and training.

“There is no doubt in our mind that a pilot at FedEx or UPS gets tired in the same way as a pilot at United or Pinnacle,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert. “So in that regard, we support the cargo pilots’ efforts to fight for equivalent anti-fatigue scheduling guidelines, which will certainly make our skies safer. However, we remain one hundred percent focused on making sure that regional airline passengers in this country receive the same level of safety from Colgan and Pinnacle that they do from Southwest or Delta. Right now, the next key steps are for the FAA to issue final rules that will significantly enhance the initial pilot qualifications as well as the training requirements for regional airlines. Unfortunately, history has shown that the airlines and their lobbyists will spare no expense to stall and obstruct the FAA from completing safety initiatives like these, so we call on Secretary LaHood and acting Administrator Huerta to stand up to these bullies and come through for the ‘little people’ like us.”